How Many Chords Are There, Anyway?

Since chords (the main component of harmony) are one of the three most vital elements of music ? the others being melody and rhythm ? it would be useful to know how many chords there are. And it doesn't matter whether you play piano or guitar or some other instrument ? chords are chords.

It's certainly not necessary to learn all the chords in the whole wide world, but it is necessary to learn some of them ? at least enough to allow you to harmonize the songs you would like to play.

But meanwhile, there are 3 chords -- just 3 -- that you absolutely, positively have to know. If you don't know these three, there's hardly a song in the whole world that you could play. But by knowing just 3 chords, you can play hundreds, if not thousands of songs! And those chords are simply the primary chords in any given key:

·The I chord (the chord built on the 1st degree of the scale)

·The IV chord (the chord built on the 4th degree of the scale)

·The V chord (the chord built on the 5th degree of the scale)

For example, if you were playing in the Key of C, the I chord would be C (c, e, g), the IV chord would be F (f, a, c), and the V chord would be G (g, b, d).

But as you probably know, there are thousands of other chords, so it would be helpful to at least know of their existence and maybe someday learn them.

So here goes:

Since there are 12 major keys one can play in (not counting enharmonic keys ? keys that sound the same but are written differently), there are:

*12 major triads (a triad is a 3 note chord)

*12 minor triads

*12 diminished triads

*12 augmented triads

*12 diminished 7th chords (4 note chords)

*12 major 6th chords

*12 minor 6th chords

*12 dominant 7th chords

*12 major 7th chords

*12 minor 7th chords

*12 half-diminished chords

*12 9th chords

*12 flat 9th chords

*12 9th/major 7th chords

*12 9th/minor 7th chords

*12 11th chords

*12 13th chords

*12 suspensions

*12 flat 5th chords

*12 flat 5th maj 7th chords

If that's not enough chords for you, remember that each chord can be inverted ? turned upside down. So multiply all the triad chords by 3, and all the 4 note chords by 4, and all the 5 note chords by 5?.

Then there are:

· poly-chords ? chords that combine two or more other chords, and

· voicings ? the way chords are positioned on the piano keyboard

And that's just in one octave. A standard piano has 7 octaves, so multiply all that by 7 and you get the answer to how many chords there really are:

More than you can count.

But again, you don't need to know them all. Just master enough so that you can play the songs you want to play, then gradually over time learn more and more chords. Your musical world will continue to grow and maturity as a musician will become obvious to others.

Duane Shinn is the author of over 500 music courses for adults. His low-cost CD ROM software titled "Duane Shinn's Instant Piano Chord Finder Chart!" is used by musicians around the world. He is also the author of the popular free 101-week online e-mail newsletter titled "Amazing Secrets Of Exciting Piano Chords & Sizzling Chord Progressions" with over 60,000 current subscribers.

In The News:

Music calendar  The Spokesman-Review
Why Does Music Evoke Memories?  Psychology Today

Silent Discos!

The press have reported this week that silent disco's are... Read More

Can You Really Learn To Play a Musical Instrument From an Online Course?

Out of the 250 million people in the United States,... Read More

Benatar and Geraldo - Still Rockin on a High Note

Most people look forward to the summer months because they... Read More

Ouch, It Hurts When I Sing!

When I first set out to write this article about... Read More

Six Reasons to Play New Age Piano

Here are six very good reasons to learn how to... Read More

Does Your Band Need a Manager?

New bands looking to book gigs and establish contacts often... Read More

How to Find Musical Ideas

The Russian Composer Igor Stravinsky once said: " A good... Read More

These MIDI Tools Are Music To My Ears

Curious about MIDI? Want to find out what tools are... Read More

The Irish Harp

The harp that once through Tara's halls the soul of... Read More

New Age Piano and Improvisation

There are so many areas in life where one must... Read More

Recording Vocals at Home

Anyone who has recorded vocals to tape knows there is... Read More

Right-Hand Techniques for New Age Piano

Recently, I had a student ask me to offer some... Read More

Protocol for Piping a Formal Dinner: A Ceremonial Guide for Highland Bagpipers

It is believed that the custom of dining in began... Read More

You Cant Force Play

A student once asked me; "How come sometimes the music... Read More

Play Too Loud And Well Cut The Power!

"Turn it down!"How often have you heard that command in... Read More

Review: Coheed and Cambria - Second Stage Turbine Blade

Ever wonder what would happen if you mixed the progressive... Read More

Why You Cant Play Piano

It's really not your fault. You see, you've been taught... Read More

Play Piano in the New Age Style

It's not what you play, it's how you play it.... Read More

Play The Piano Like A Pro

Meet the 12 Major Notes:1. C (do)2. C# - Db... Read More

Home Run Gigs

Are you still playing your heart out to small audiences... Read More

Legal Music Downloads

On July 28, 2004, French Internet access providers and music... Read More

How to Organise a Gig or a Live Music Event - the Budget

Three times in the last month I've been asked the... Read More

Creating Your Own Unique Music

Have you ever dreamed of penning your own compositions? Writing... Read More

Killer Piano Playing Secrets of a Chord Addict!

I wish you could have seen me play the piano... Read More

New Age Music - What Is It Good For?

Let's face it. The world will not end if there... Read More